Everybody needs fantasy. For children, it is especially important because in fantasy lie the roots of imagining yourself, who you want to become and the world you want to inhabit. Our relationship with fantasy begins with the daydream as we look out of the window and imagine a tiger-shaped cloud to actually be a tiger that roars. In a blink of an eye, that roar can be silenced and the tiger can be turned back into a cloud. And so, fantasy teaches us that we are indeed in control of our fear and so perhaps, of our life.
Cinema has long been a medium of fantasy, with beams of light playing out our unspoken desires and hidden fears. Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, made in 1902, can be seen variously as prescient sci-fi or the earliest fantasy film that imagined not just another world on the moon but also an adventure in which humans fought and escaped from antagonistic moon people.
In Indian cinema, fantasy manifests itself in myriad mythologies and while there is magic and other worlds, more often than not, these films are focused more on the gods and their exploits, rather than on the human impulse for conjuring up imaginary worlds, that throw up challenges, lessons and victories. But fantasy continues to dominate in one form or another. So, here’s a selection of twenty-first century fantasy films and TV shows available, fittingly, on that fantastic otherworld – the internet.
Fairy tales are, perhaps, the earliest fantasies that children experience. And what better film to bring a whole lot of them together than Shrek. The film creates a fantasy world replete with fantastic creatures like an ogre and a dragon along with fairy-tale characters like the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf to tell us a fun story about love, friendship and loyalty.
You can stream Shrek on Netflix here
A Series of Unfortunate Events
“Look Away” says the opening song to the viewer but we recommend you do just the opposite. This popular book series that was made into a film is now available as a TV show. The Baudelaires, a family of super-talented children, are pitted against a surrealistic world and an evil relative in this steampunk series that showcases the wisdom of children, whether it is about vocabulary or about the right thing to do.
You can stream A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix here
Harry Potter Film Series
The most successful fantasy series of our times, the saga of the Boy Who Lived continues to enthrall readers and viewers of the books as well as the films they were turned into. The film series is inconsistent, with some like Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, standing out from the rest. But undeniably the series is something to be shared with the kids in your life.
You can stream the Harry Potter Film Series on Amazon Prime Video here
Adapted into anime from a popular manga series, Mushishi is about in-between life-forms more primitive than even bacteria, and a Mushi master who researches Mushi and helps people troubled by them. Ethereal in nature, they remain unnoticed by most humans but they can disrupt the balance between the worlds.
You can stream Mushishi on Netflix here
Where The Wild Things Are
How can we resist Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book turned into a film? It is the textbook of how fantasy works for children. Little Max’s escape into a fantasy world where he becomes king of all the wild things tells us about the wild-ness in all of us, about overcoming fears and about the enduring power of love.
You can stream Where The Wild Things Are on Amazon Prime Video here